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Send a text message to a cell phone via email easily
December 2, 2006 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Teleflip is a free service for sending SMS (text messages) via email to any cell phone, all you need to do is send to xxx-xxx-xxxx@teleflip.com. Try it out. Replies will automatically be sent back to your email.
posted by onalark (60 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
For those learning to love the command line, try:

> echo "Body Here" | mail -s "Subject Here" xxxxxxxxxx@teleflip.com
posted by onalark at 7:07 PM on December 2, 2006


For those learning to use the internet:

They'll likely harvest your email address and sell it to the spammers; likely harvest your friend's cellphone number and sell it as well; and will undoubtedly be mapping your social network to the sixth degree by tracking connections between y'all.

I know, I know, privacy is dead, get over it. Not me: I'm opting out of that bullshit as much as possible.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2006


And for the international Internet: it only supports North American phone numbers.
posted by a. at 7:28 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seconding FFF's comments, mostly. Any free service like this is obviously out to harvest some ripe personal data for to spam with.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:29 PM on December 2, 2006


xxx-xxx-xxxx@teleflip.com

That's not enough numbers for my phone.
posted by pompomtom at 7:31 PM on December 2, 2006


Just so as you know - it's North American only, I just received a reply saying "We're sorry we were unable to deliver your message. No more delivery attempts will be made. The following recipients do not appear to be valid North American phone numbers. Please check the number and try again - if you believe that the number is valid, please contact us at http://www.teleflip.com/teleflip/contactpage.jsp."
posted by dash_slot- at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2006


Oh no! I tried it before I read the comments...Am I going to be spammed now? I've tried to keep that account so clean! (Wah!)
posted by typewriter at 7:35 PM on December 2, 2006


Their privacy policy looks very good (assuming it accurately describes what goes on).
posted by null terminated at 7:42 PM on December 2, 2006


too good to be true. many years ago I tried using free SMS messaging off the web to send 'free' messages to service engineers in our company. never happened.. waste of time..
someone is paying for it somewhere and they will make you pay, whether by cash or by spam.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2006


Very cool service! it's certainly easier to type on a PC keyboard than to thumb my way around the phone...
posted by clevershark at 7:46 PM on December 2, 2006


I've forgotten how much easier (and more complicated at the same time, sometimes disproportionately) life is with a Blackberry.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:55 PM on December 2, 2006


Any free service like this is obviously out to harvest some ripe personal data for to spam with.

The free service is a demo for the paid service. You can send up to 500 messages a month for free. It appears their goal is to make money by charging businesses for using the service to communicate with employees/customers/etc.
posted by winston at 7:57 PM on December 2, 2006


I don't get it; I routinely send e-mails to my mom and my brother through gmail, and I don't have to use any third party. What's the advantage of using this?
posted by interrobang at 8:19 PM on December 2, 2006


Just a note that many users may already have this service through their telco. I use T-mobile and you can send SMS to my phone using (phone#)@tmomail.net
posted by vacapinta at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2006


I should have said that I send messages to friends to their cellphones from gmail. vacapinta kind of cleared up my question, though.
posted by interrobang at 8:35 PM on December 2, 2006


My mobile company charges me for every text message I receive.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:40 PM on December 2, 2006


Don't most cell service providers already give your phone an e-mail address?
posted by odinsdream at 8:41 PM on December 2, 2006


There's also a Firefox Extension that will let you send text messages from your browser.
posted by jeffmshaw at 8:50 PM on December 2, 2006


I wish I could turn off text mesaging altogether. Its not something I have any interest in using or being charged for when some asshole spams me via SMS.
posted by fenriq at 9:03 PM on December 2, 2006


Sorry, I should have checked out their privacy policy before posting, I didn't think about that (and I'm glad it's clean). I think it's useful because sometimes I need to send a message to a friend but I can't call them, or I'd like my computer to notify me when 'something' happens.

All the young ones are using text-messaging now, both online and on their cell phones.
posted by onalark at 9:04 PM on December 2, 2006


fenriq, call your cel phone provider and tell them you don't want SMS. They should be able to disable it.
posted by mzurer at 9:13 PM on December 2, 2006


The thing is that sometimes you have a number and you don't know which provider it's attached to. That's where this comes in handy.
posted by clevershark at 9:32 PM on December 2, 2006


Sorry, I should have checked out their privacy policy before posting, I didn't think about that (and I'm glad it's clean).

Clean?

(iii) Teleflip reserves the right to change all or a portion of this Privacy Policy at any time with or without individual notice to you, and your continued use of the Service or the Site constitutes your binding acceptance of any such changes. You may always review the most current version of our Privacy Policy.

So just make sure you re-read the privacy policy every single time you use the service and you should be safe. That sounds fair enough completely ridiculous.
posted by scottreynen at 9:33 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Did you know you can send SMS over AIM. Just type +XXX-XXX-XXXX. Even better, eh?
posted by eperker at 9:37 PM on December 2, 2006


Actually you have to put 1 before the area code (+1xxxyyyzzzz) using AIM.
posted by clevershark at 9:46 PM on December 2, 2006


I wish I could turn off text mesaging altogether.

Can't you? My friend did, to lower her monthly bill. If I try to send a text to her phone, it bounces back as "undeliverable."

...Which is odd, because if I send a text message to my landline telephone number — which, obviously, doesn't support SMS — I don't get any bounce back.
posted by cribcage at 9:56 PM on December 2, 2006


Well, for some reason teleflip works but AIM doesn't.
posted by clevershark at 10:23 PM on December 2, 2006


You can turn off text messaging.
posted by danb at 10:24 PM on December 2, 2006


I know, I know, privacy is dead, get over it. Not me: I'm opting out of that bullshit as much as possible.

Right on, brother.
posted by cillit bang at 10:32 PM on December 2, 2006


so what you are saying is that a phone can be used for something other than talking to someone?
posted by peewinkle at 10:43 PM on December 2, 2006


Sure, peewinkle. You can whap somebody upside the head with one, for one thing. And you can snap photos or video of Kramer going apeshit in L.A. Phones are awesome! They're just like, um, eyes! They're like little plastic eyes that talk!
posted by cgc373 at 11:24 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


cgc373: I will never again be able to look at my cellphone without cracking up. Awesome.
posted by Harvey Birdman at 12:08 AM on December 3, 2006


For the record I've used this for a long time and no spam.
posted by shanevsevil at 12:48 AM on December 3, 2006


Skype 2.5 can also send SMS messages, although it can't recieve them. It costs a few cents, depending on where in the world the SMS is going.
posted by AdamJ at 1:19 AM on December 3, 2006


...Which is odd, because if I send a text message to my landline telephone number — which, obviously, doesn't support SMS — I don't get any bounce back.

If someone texts my landline, it rings, and when I pick up a very polite computer lady reads out the message. She does swearing and everything. (For some reason, a few 'phone companies enabled this feature long before they publicised it, which made it great for prank calls for a while.)

My mobile company charges me for every text message I receive.

Crazy. Are you on some sort of evil mirrorworld call plan? Do they charge you when people ring you as well?
posted by jack_mo at 3:29 AM on December 3, 2006


lol @ jack_mo!
posted by dash_slot- at 3:34 AM on December 3, 2006


jack_mo, strange as it may seem, being charged to receive calls and SMSes is standard in North America. Maybe you already knew that, though, and I'm doing the usual fail-to-pick-up-on-net-sarcasm thing.
posted by louigi at 4:03 AM on December 3, 2006


sorry to interject:
strange as it may seem, being charged to receive calls and SMSes is standard in North America.

Wouldn't a network who only charged for initiating calls & texts make a niche and lots of money?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:26 AM on December 3, 2006


No, louigi, we're genuinely shocked by the way you're all getting reamed.
posted by imperium at 4:43 AM on December 3, 2006


I don't really understand the whole "SMS" thing. In Japan, when you get a phone, it comes with a default email address, same as the phone number (so, for example, 09011112222@vodafone.ne.jp), which you then usually change to something more memorable (bugbread@vodafone.ne.jp).

Bam, presto, you're done. If you want to send an email to someone's phone, you send an email to bugbread@vodafone.ne.jp. You're done.

How does this whole SMS thing work? Don't phones have regular email addresses, or is this in addition to them, or is it somehow cheaper, or what?
posted by Bugbread at 5:11 AM on December 3, 2006


uh, it's pretty simple: some phones don't have email addresses.
posted by Marquis at 5:36 AM on December 3, 2006


In the UK, the default is that you do not have email on mobiles, but the service can be set up. However to send a text message is easy: use the address book to find your contact and use options to send a message. A text can cost anywhere from 3p [6c] to 20p. It depends on your tariff.

It's easier, because all phones have a number - but not all have email. And it costs nothing to receive a call or a text.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:41 AM on December 3, 2006


O, and I still don't understand this:
The thing is that sometimes you have a number and you don't know which provider it's attached to. That's where this comes in handy.
posted by clevershark


Why do I need to know which provider it is? Do you get charged differently if it's a different network?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:43 AM on December 3, 2006


Ah, ok, I see. There's something like SMS in Japan (email that goes directly to a phone without using an email address), but it has some drawbacks (much shorter maximum length (128 letters, I think), no attachments (can't send photos, videos, GPS data, etc.), only works within the same company (you can send the equivalent of an SMS from a Vodafone phone to a Vodafone phone, but not from a Vodafone phone to an AU phone), etc.), so since every phone has an email address, everyone just uses that instead.

Ease of use is the exact same. You go into the address book, click "send email", compose, and send. The SMS-like thing is the exact same: you go into the address book, click "send Cmail", compose, and send.
posted by Bugbread at 5:53 AM on December 3, 2006


Why do I need to know which provider it is? Do you get charged differently if it's a different network?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:43 AM PST on December 3


Each provider has a different format for the email.
posted by vacapinta at 6:25 AM on December 3, 2006


One can SMS any Polish mobile phone on the Orange network for free via a web page - it's been like that for years, when the network was known as Idea. A user of that network can also send an email via an SMS-to-email gateway for the price of a normal text message. Not terribly hi-tech, but effective and cheap.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:23 AM on December 3, 2006


Each provider has a different format for the email.
posted by vacapinta


clevershark is talking about SMS, right? so as that is a common standard, and quite different to email, format is irrelevant, right?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:03 AM on December 3, 2006


vacapinta, clevershark, etc. are talking about this. Each cell phone provider in the US (or at least most of the major ones?) assigns email addresses to their phones, each with a slightly different "format." Sending an email to [phone number]@[provider's email-to-SMS gateway domain] will send an SMS to the phone. There are limits on character length. My link gives domain names for each specific carrier, and it mentions teleflip as well.
posted by whatnotever at 8:42 AM on December 3, 2006


No, louigi, we're genuinely shocked by the way you're all getting reamed.

my plan's the same up here in canada. it DOES, however, give me a reason not to answer the ex's texts, though.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2006


Oh, I see.

The North American networks took a straightforward technology that worked perfectly well, and complicated it.
Surely - if you have the number - that's all you need to send a SMS. No need for email. Then, the recipient pays, and people get all confused.

God, imagine if you had to pay to receive emails...
posted by dash_slot- at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2006


SMS is the underlying technology for sending text to phones. When your phone has an email address, the phone company is accepting emails and converting them to SMS for you. You are still charged if you are charged for such things.

The benefits of using SMS over phone email addresses is that you don't have to store 2 types of info for friends with cellphones, and its sometimes faster since it doesn't have to go through a mailserver. Also, older phones support it a little bit more intuitively.

so what you are saying is that a phone can be used for something other than talking to someone?

The recipient doesn't have to stop what he or she is doing and devote his or her attention completely to you, in order for you to send a communication to them, as with talking. This provides a real reduction in how annoying cellphones are when your friends/family figure out SMS.

Also, the message is stored, so if its directions you dont have to read them out carefully over the phone and have them copy them down to paper...

Don't dismiss the SMS, its great.
posted by rubin at 10:02 AM on December 3, 2006


dash_slot- : "The North American networks took a straightforward technology that worked perfectly well, and complicated it. "

They had some weird-ass thing called "WAP", too. Never really understood that. Japanese phones just had simple web browsers. Wanna code a site to be readable on a Japanese phone? Sure, stick to really simple html like background colour, font colour, bold, italics, links, and small images, and you're done (the complex stuff gets stripped out). No special coding or functions necessary. And they supported blink and marquee! (hehe). Modern phones, of course, have proper browsers, but I'm thinking more of circa 1998 or so.

rubin : "SMS is the underlying technology for sending text to phones. When your phone has an email address, the phone company is accepting emails and converting them to SMS for you."

...in North America. I'm pretty sure that isn't how it works here.

rubin : "The recipient doesn't have to stop what he or she is doing and devote his or her attention completely to you, in order for you to send a communication to them, as with talking."

It also has the advantages of being able to send photos from your phone (if you see something cool/interesting, or if you're giving someone directions, or a host of other uses), and you don't have to be concerned about whether the person you're calling is asleep or awake or on a hot date or in the middle of getting chewed out by their boss. And you can email away on the train without bothering anyone around you. And you can send GPS info that allows someone to use the navigation function of their phone to meet you, or find the store you're directing them to, or the like. And you can send to multiple people, for example if you're rescheduling something or need to tell multiple people the same thing. Etc., etc., etc.

I probably use my cell phone to make a voice call around twice a week. I use it for email maybe 10 times a day (and way more before my son was born, when I had more time for socializing and spent less time at home).
posted by Bugbread at 10:55 AM on December 3, 2006


SMS is great -- perfect for telling your friends you'll be late to the pub because you're stuck in a meeting, for example -- but frankly in North America we're still in the stone age when it comes to using phones for anything but talking. Providers do everything they can to make any other use impractical and unaffordable because they're very shortsighted. It's all about what brings in money now. So of course they're now stuck in the position where providers are thinking about 3G but seeing no demand for it, but that's a direct result of their discouraging non-traditional use of the phones.

In fact when you see someone texting in the US or Canada, that person is probably from somewhere else.
posted by clevershark at 11:39 AM on December 3, 2006


Teleflip is old. At least two years old. It doesn't give you spam. It doesn't give the people you message spam. It's easy to use and it saves a person the trouble of having to figure out which messaging address is assigned to which cell phone number. I use it. It works. I like it.
posted by airguitar at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2006


ive been using teleflip for a year or so now... it totally rocks.
posted by specialk420 at 3:39 PM on December 3, 2006


So, if I know the cell # of someone who depends on SMS and can't simply turn it off, I can drive up their bill by flooding them with messages? Nice. Teleflip offers to block your number on request so you can't be a recipient from their service. The question is, how much money can you run up in messages before the victim figures that out and Teleflip responds? On the basic cingular plan, it's $0.10 per message. I'm thinking that it's possible to hit someone for a couple hundred bucks before teleflip shuts it off.

They claim to have a "1-strike you're out" policy on spam. I seriously doubt that's anything more than lip service. They make no claims that they will stop or prevent spam, what response they will have and in what time frame. There is nothing stated about filtering, domain/ip blocking, etc, etc.
posted by plinth at 7:55 PM on December 3, 2006


"Help us combat SMS-Spam!

Your message has been intercepted by the Rogers Wireless™ Doorman™"

I read Doormat...
posted by kika at 8:12 PM on December 3, 2006


According to Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities, some of our subjective impressions do not correspond to any objective reality in the thing perceived.
posted by airguitar at 5:59 AM on December 4, 2006


louigi writes 'jack_mo, strange as it may seem, being charged to receive calls and SMSes is standard in North America. Maybe you already knew that, though, and I'm doing the usual fail-to-pick-up-on-net-sarcasm thing.'

No, I didn't know. Certainly explains why Americans didn't take to SMS as quickly as the rest of the world. And does this mean that Americans just click Reject when a call comes through and then ring the person back so no one gets charged?
posted by jack_mo at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2006


jack_mo; providers in the U.S. typically charge by the minute, with different caches of minute totals being used depending on the time of day. Overages beyond these caches are charged per-minute rates which vary by provider.

So - depending on the situation, yes - that's entirely possible. If someone rings me at 18:59, I won't answer. I'll call them back at 19:01, because calls I make between 19:00 and 07:00 are unmetered. If I had answered the call and talked for 30 minutes, even though only one of those minutes was before 19:00, my daytime cache of minutes would go down by 30 minutes.

The entire North American cellphone system is ridiculous - we're way behind everyone else, and it's all because of the greed of providers. Phone features are crippled on purpose in order to try and sell proprietary services or accessories. Verizon is notorious in this regard. For example - many of their so-called "Bluetooth" phones are purposefully crippled. The don't support the entire bluetooth protocol. If they did - you could buy any bluetooth headset and use it with your phone. Verizon makes sure you can only buy their overpriced headsets.

Likewise, application exchange is purposefully broken so that you can't go home with your new phone and download free games, e-mail clients, and whatnot. You must buy them from Verizon's proprietary portal and often pay monthly subscription fees to use the programs.

It ought to be downright criminal.
posted by odinsdream at 9:10 AM on December 4, 2006


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